Geraldine Ferraro, the first American woman to be the Vice-Presidential candidate on a major party national ticket, died today. A former Democratic Congresswoman from New York, she was Walter Mondale’s running mate in the 1984 election. As a child living in the D.C. suburbs at the time, I distinctly remember the excitement of her candidacy (and also that I liked how she’d untraditionally kept her birth name rather than using her husband’s name, which was even more unusual in the 80s than it is today). Although Mondale was defeated by the incumbent, Ronald Reagan, in a landslide, Ferraro’s candidacy made that otherwise forgettable election a historic one. Despite bad publicity later in her life—a scandal involving her husband’s business dealings, racist remarks about Barack Obama’s candidacy—she has an undeniably important role in US history.
And yes, it’s fucking ridiculous that it was 25 years before another woman ran on the national ticket—and even more fucking ridiculous given how unqualified and anti-woman that candidate was. The US still lags badly behind the rest of the world when it comes to nominating women for the highest executive offices. Ferraro established a precedent that has only barely been followed, even as women have affected social change in so many other ways.
PS: You may enjoy this video of Ferraro calling out George H.W. Bush for his patronizing mansplaining during the 1984 Vice Presidential debate.